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  CSPAN    Today in Washington    News/Business. News.  

    July 8, 2011
    6:00 - 7:00am EDT  

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has beent systematically lied through -- like to throw out. the allies are in less. they have claimed that the phone hacking only stopped in 2004. we know for certain other instances relating to 2003 and 2002. they claim that they had run a full internal investigation. it is clear that if they had, they did pay the police. otherwise, they did not. they claim they have always helped the police but is only private in civil cases. the police claim that they notified all the victims and had specifically named people were not victims. we know that not all the victims
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were contacted. some people are told not victims were victims. he briefed them on sunday that he was furious. these are his words. some statements have been at odds with what has subsequently emerged. i'm sorry. leadership does not involve being rude about your staff. it involves taking responsibility for what you say to parliament. many people -- yes, of course. >> who came to give the evidence. witness refuses to appear, it is difficult to start the process
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of getting that witness before a select committee. that is why a wider inquiry will have more powers and even a select committee. >> that is my next sentence. [laughter] many people may not care in the wider world whether parliament is lied to, although i think we should. but this house came into existence to hold the sole power in the land to account, then the crown. we often fail now, and sometimes fail miserably, in holding the other powers in the land to account. that is something we must now do properly. this is one such instance. we have colluded with the media. we depend on what date show for
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our election. therefore sometimes we are spineless when something like this occurs. we have left them thinking they have a bite anybody is proud of. it may even be we have fallen for the threats that have been made when we have spoken out. i know several members who have led this debate who have had to threats. and we have let one man have far too great a sway over our national life. at least berlusconi lives in italy, but murdoch is not resident in this country. he does not pay tax here and has never appeared before the select committee of this house. no other organization would allow one man in monopoly on sports rates, for newspapers, and most movies. america, the home of the aggressive entrepreneur, does not allow it. we should not. i should to say about the proposed takeover of sky that it
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should be put on ice while the police investigation is ongoing. the executive and non-executive directors have failed to tackle criminality in the country, and it should be in doubt whether some of these are fit and proper people to run a media company. there are many other questions. who is paying? is it news international? what did rebecca weighed -- wade and others know, and when did they know it? why has so much material suddenly appeared in the news international archive? i do not want to get very partisan, but i think there is one question that does remain. did the prime minister ever ask what really went on at news of the world before he appointed an editor to work at no. 10 downing street? i hope those who broke the law
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and those who covered it up will be brought to justice. i hope the metropolitan police will have the reputation restored. i hope the ordinary members of the public who were targeted will get justice. i hope we will all get to know the truth. even more important, i hope the british media, who for so long have had a worldwide renown for craftsmanship, for top intelligence, and for robust investigative journalism, will rediscover their true vocation -- to bring the truth to life truthfully, honestly, and legally. none of that will happen until we establish the full, unvarnished truth. that, i believe, need a public inquiry, and it needs it now. the question is as on the order paper. i call the attorney general, mr. dominant grain. >> mr. speaker, may at first of all congratulate the honorable
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gentleman for having secured the debate. on behalf of the house and my own behalf, to thank him for his courage in raising these matters today. i am absolutely sure the whole house shares with him his anxiety, shock, and concern at hearing of the further allegations that have arisen over the last couple of days in relation to phone hacking, just as indeed we share his concern over the past allegations of phone hacking, and many of the other matters which he raised in the course of his speech this afternoon. the suggestion which has now emerged that the bones of some of the victims -- phones of some of the victims of the july 7 bombings were hacked into must fill any right thinking person with revolution. mr. speaker, i hope the
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honorable gentleman will forgive me. by virtue of being a minister of the crown, i am of necessity more circumscribed in what i can say than what he can say in initiating the debate. i have of necessity to be quite brief. many of the issues he raised are of a rather delicate nature in view of the fact that there are criminal investigations taking place. i shall come back to that in a moment. phone hacking is a serious crime. as the house will be aware, the courts have previously imposed sentences in two cases where it has occurred. the current police investigation is falling further evidence, and those most recent allegations we have just referred to will be considered and are being considered as part of that investigation. mr. speaker, it is precisely because of the gravity of the
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allegations now being made the prime minister announced a short time ago there would be a fully independent public inquiry or inquiries into these matters. those, however, must not and cannot just did -- jeopardize any criminal investigation. it is likely that much of the work of the inquiry will only be able to start once the police investigation and any prosecutions that might result from it are concluded. i say that mindful of the comments made already in this debate. but it may be possible to move forward in some areas, but not necessarily in others. nevertheless, there is a burning desire of many people to see finality in this matter and to to be revealed. it may take some time because of that, as i am sure the house will appreciate. in the meantime, the government will seek to do all it can to progress matters further, both
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by consulting on appropriate terms of reference, the composition of an inquiry, whether it should be one inquiry or more than one, bearing in mind there are different issues to be considered here -- the honorable gentleman has raised issues about the conduct of the police, for example. there are also issues about the conduct of the media. can that be merged into one inquiry or should it be looked at separately? i highlight that issue. i think there is potential for there to be proper consultation on how to proceed. thank you. >> thank you to the honorable gentleman for giving way. we have news international investigating news international and the metropolitan police investigating the metropolitan police. in terms of public confidence, is there not the case to be made that there should be independent supervision by another police force into the
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metropolitan police investigation so we can be satisfied we are really getting to the heart of this matter? inevitably, whatever our confidence in the met, they will inevitably know some of the characters involved. having another police force tech review of that is helpful. >> as the honorable lady knows, there are mechanisms for inquiries into the conduct of the police to be referred to the ipcc, and to bring in outside police officers to investigate. on the matter of the "news of the world," it is a matter of how it wishes to cooperate with the police in their inquiries. i would not quite join with her in saying the "news of the world" is investigating itself. i understand they have appointed independent counsel to try to provide -- [booing] 4 give me a moment. what the "news of the world"
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chooses to do it is another matter. the inquiry that is taking place is a criminal investigation conducted by the police into serious criminal allegations. the question as to how that is responded to by any organization or individual is a matter for them. i draw neither the assurance more reassurance from the manner in which they choose to do it. >> so grateful to the attorney- general. the guardian has alleged today that news international used e- mails detailing payments to the police some time ago. if that is the case, can he tell the house whether mr. pull -- poole was aware of those e-mails before he resigned as the prime minister's spokesman. if so, did he consult the prime minister or any other minister?
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>> i am not sure that in my capacity as the queen's attorney general that is a question to which i would necessarily have the immediate answer. what i can say to her is that there is a criminal -- there are a series of criminal investigations taking place in wider inquiry. the government is committed to there being an inquiry in the matter. i am sorry to disappoint the honorable lady. in any event, i do not think it is a position in which i am able to answer. >> as a former competition minister, can i ask him as attorney general whether in his view the cultural secretary has the power and always have the power to refer the news corporation takeover to the proper commission? >> if i may say to the honorable
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gentleman, because i checked this before the start of the debate is that my right honorable friend did refer the takeover to the competition commission. what then happened -- what then -- as a result of having done so, a series of assurances were provided which satisfied him. if i may say there after i suggested he refers that question to my right honorable friend. i give way to the honorable lady. >> did the attorney general just tell the house from whom they received those assurances? [laughter] >> those assurances were received from news international. [during] -- [jeering]
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and were independently validated. if i may say to the honorable gentleman, i think we have to have a little bit of care here. the process by which such a takeover comes follows what is a quasi judicial procedure. therefore, in those circumstances, what my honorable friend has to do is quite severely circumscribed in terms of his options. if the honorable gentleman feels that was not properly conducted, if i may suggest to him he should raise that with my right honorable friend directly. i will give with first to the right honorable gentleman. >> i am very grateful to the attorney general. would he not accept that now the secretary of state for culture, media, and sport is in possession of information relating to the behavior of news corp, which information he could
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possibly not have been in possession of at the time he made the original decision? it must be open to him, as a matter of law, to reconsider his original decision and make the reference that is now sought. >> my right honorable friend is sitting next to me and i'm sure has noted the comments the right honorable gentleman has raised, and therefore will be in a position to respond to them if he wishes. i give way to the honorable gentleman. >> the right honorable gentleman said in the middle of the quasi- judicial process that the assurances have satisfied the secretary of state. so why is he in the middle of the consultation process where he has not made his mind up yet and is meant to be open-minded about whether to refer this to the competition commission, if the assurances have satisfied him? the consultation is a mockery. >> my right honorable friend said he was minded to accept the
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assurances. he is sitting next to me. and if i may say to the honorable gentleman, he is therefore in a position both to note the strong views which the honorable gentleman has expressed, and indeed the right honorable gentleman has expressed, and i have no doubt there will be opportunities for him to respond to that in due course. >> i am very grateful to the attorney. the prime minister made reference, correctly, very correctly, in his answers this afternoon to do process. -- to due process. it is clear he was correct in making that point. but would not due process also include, given evidence of serious criminality on the part of some people at news international, of in any event without necessarily referring it to the competition commission, to calling a pause pending
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further evidence? >> my right honorable friend makes a perfectly reasonable point. i have no doubt at all that my right honorable friend the secretary of state will be in a position to note his comments and reflect carefully on whether the situation has changed in such a fashion. but i come back to my original point, which is ministers of the crown have to be rather careful about simply changing decisions on behalf, in view of the fact that they have legal obligations in respect to the way in which they take this decisions. with great respect to those who have intervened, and i am happy to feel their interventions, the debate on phone hacking is not at this stage on the takeover policies of the government. i give way. >> i am most critical to the attorney for giving way. i believe he is right when he
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confronts the argument to the question of competition. but does not the government, as the overall regulating authority, retain a discretion in relation to the management of this industry throughout the united kingdom? and does not that discretion, for example, allow the government to give consideration to whether the directors of any company have been fulfilling their public obligation? >> i have no doubt at all that my right honorable friend is correct in all he has said. and those are matters which can be borne in mind by the government in reviewing the process of this takeover bid, and indeed the competition laws underlying it. i have no doubt it is correct. >> on the issue of payment of police, which is currently in the public domain since the release of the e-mails last night, has there been any
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discussion between the home secretary and the commissioner about this issue? and as everyone absolutely clear that the payment of police officers is a criminal offense? >> i can assure the honorable gentleman that i think nobody in this house or anywhere else is in any doubt that payments to police officers, unless they are payments made in relation to a police officer who may have separate employment, which happens sometimes, is illegal. i await any member of this house that may tell me something to the contrary. but at the moment, i cannot think of a circumstance. i give way. >> i think the attorney general for giving way. it is a pleasure to follow the head of the select committee. there is a real question about public trust in the police. we have to be sure the police will investigate people, regardless of how powerful they
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maybe and regardless of whether they have to take illegal payments from them. that is a serious question that requires inquiry. >> if that situation were not occurring in this country, the rule of law would be undermined. i can assure my friend that if there was any suggestion that there were differential rules being applied because some people are powerful and some are weak, that would be a very serious matter. i give way to the honorable gentleman. >> i am grateful to the attorney general. drawing on his legal knowledge, with the attorney general confirm that were news international, with the record of the wrongdoing they have admitted so far, were they to apply to run a minicab firm in london, they would not receive a license? if they are not fit and proper people to run a minicab firm, how can they be a fit and proper about it to take over a
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monopoly of a whole television channel? >> if i may say to the right honorable gentleman, so far as the question as to whether any organization is a fit and proper person to own a broadcasting license, i am sure he will be aware that question under section 3 of the broadcasting act of 1990 is a matter for ofcom and not for the secretary of state. indeed, the secretary of state would not be allowed to get involved in that matter. yes, i give way. >> grateful. critical to my right honorable friend for giving way. -- grateful to my right honorable friend for giving way. on the last occasion these matters were debated in the house there was a lot of concern there were constitutional issues and issues of privilege which arose from the potential hacking of members of parliament's telephones. the committee on standards and
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privileges has produced its 14th report. in framing the inquiries which are suggested today, would it be possible to take account of the recommendations of that report which clarify what is quite a difficult situation? >> my honorable friend makes a very good point, and i have no doubt at all that along with every single representation that is made by members of this house as to how they think the inquiry or inquiries should be conducted is a matter worth taking into account. >> the attorney general is right to say it is not a matter for the secretary of state. it is for ofcom to decide. but they can have no choice to do so unless there is a pause in the secretary of state picked decision. that is what we need. a pause so they can come to a conclusion at the end of the police investigation. >> it is a matter i am very happy to go away and check, but
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i think the honorable gentleman may be mistaken. i think in fact foc -- ofcom may intrude at any stage if they decide the person is not fit and proper to hold a broadcasting license. i would not want to mislead the house. i would be happy to go away and check that and write to the honorable gentleman about it. >> i am very grateful. i spoke to the chief secretary of ofcom yesterday, who told me they have the power to intervene at any stage if they determine somebody is no longer a fit and proper person to own a media organization. >> i am grateful to my honorable friend. that does indeed confirm what i already thought. but of course that will not prevent me from going away and triple checking the matter before i write to the honorable gentleman about it. i am conscious i want to make progress.
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i want to allow time for debate. i have a limited ability to comment on many of the allegations made. i simply want to remind the house of something of the history of this matter. the house will be aware that it originated in november 2005, when the metropolitan police were contacted by the royal household with concerns that voice mails related to the royal family had been intercepted. i hear the honorable gentleman said he knows all of it. he may know all of it, but i think it is worthwhile of the house being reminded of some of the effect of this inquiry if it is to have a debate. in those circumstances, the arrests took place in august 2006 for unlawful interception of phone messages. searching the business
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premises, police also uncovered further evidence of interception related to other individuals who are not related to the royal household. the honorable gentleman will be aware if not the house that they pleaded guilty. the only charges related to the royal family and five counts related to others in the public eye. they were sentenced to four months and six months respectively. after that time in january 2007, matters stayed essentially quiet on this issue until july 2009, when the media reported fresh allegations related to further cases of phone hacking. the crown prosecution service then reviewed the material provided to the crown prosecution service by the police to satisfy itself that of corporate actions had been taken with respect to the material.
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the crown prosecution service were satisfied that the charging and prosecution was proper and it would not be appropriate to reopen the cases. it also concluded that any new information should be reported to the police for further investigation. i give way to the right honorable gentleman. >> i am grateful to the minister for giving way. it is being reported in the news this afternoon that the former director for the prosecution has been appointed by news international to advise it on those issues to do with the police at this time. >> outrageous. >> does the minister think it is important? is there any thought from the government? >> as i am not sure that what the honorable gentleman has said is correct, i think i am not minded -- i am not minded to comment on it. my understanding of the matter
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-- my understanding of the matter is that lord macdonald had been appointed by news of the world to help them with their disclosure process to the police. that is a matter for lord mcdonald, in accordance with his professional code of conduct before the bar. [laughter] what i can assure the house i do not think this is necessarily a particular help to me in answering his question. [laughter] if i may say to the right honorable gentleman, he makes a perfect to that -- perfectly legitimate point that without knowing, which i do not, the circumstances with which lauren macdonald may or may not be involved with advising "news of the world" in this matter, i do not think it is appropriate for me to comment further.
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>> will he give the assurance he will look into this matter when he leaves the chamber? the police minister on july 14 in good faith date comments up to the prosecution about his approach in this case. i think there is important there is clarity in these issues will we consider these matters in the house of commons. >> i entirely agree with what the right honorable gentleman said. i am happy to go away and have a look at it. as i said, ultimately a lawyer's involvement in any matter is a matter which has to be reconciled with a professional code of conduct, whether any conflict of interest may exist. beyond that, i will write to the honorable gentleman when i have had the opportunity of looking at it. i was mentioning before we were diverted by lord mcdonald to the media reporting fresh allegations in 2009. in november 2010, the
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metropolitan police approached the crown prosecution service for advice about the prospect of bringing further charges, due to the non-corporation of witnesses. in the lack of further evidence, charges cannot be brought. the metropolitan police asked the "news of the world" for any new material in january of this year. following developments in the civil courts, the crown prosecution service agreed to review everything the metropolitan police had in their possession to see if there was any material that could form evidence in future prosecution of phone hacking. on january 26, in light of the seriousness of the allegations and the fresh information that had come to light, the metropolitan police announced a new investigation. speakers, that investigation, operation greeting, which is led by deputy sue akers, in an entirely different unit in the
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metropolitan police from that which carried out the investigation in 2006. there are 45 experienced police officers working on the case. that illustrates how seriously they are taking the new investigation. and i think it is precisely because of the new investigation that this new information is coming to light progressively and is the subject on which the debate has been based. the prime minister said the police must be allowed to pursue their criminal investigation in the most vigorous way they can to get to the truth. i simply say to the house that in the light of that that is one of the reasons why ministers will not be making pronouncements in detail on some of the matters which the honorable gentleman has raised. it is right to point out, and i think the honorable gentleman has pointed out, but we have had
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a large number of inquiries taken place. we have the police pursuing their investigation. we have a number of investigations by the parliament's committee on standards and privileges. we have also had worked by the committee of the department of media, culture, and sports select committee. i will say this in concluding my reports. i hope the house may derive some reassurance from all of that that these issues are being taken very seriously. i take them very seriously. and it is essential that no stone should be left unturned in ensuring that anyone guilty of any criminal action is brought to justice, and that the public are provided with the truth in relation to what has happened and the lessons needed to ensure there is no rip-off -- repetition in the future. >> could i ask a simple
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question? why did it take you so long to take these issues seriously? >> if i may simply make a couple of remarks, this government has been in office since may of 2010. the matters clearly originate some time prior to that. moreover, i would simply point out that the issues reviving in the way they have paid back, i think it is right to say, to just before christmas. the world is not a perfect place, but i did note the honorable gentleman's rather fair comment which he raised in opening this debate, that perhaps one should not be judgmental. i rather doubt it should be selected in the way it passes judgments. in those circumstances, what i
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can say to the honorable gentleman is that i am satisfied the government has acted properly in the last few months in responding to the way this story has developed. i am also satisfied, and i hope the house is satisfied, that the prime minister has responded properly to the latest allegations that have emerged today. i want to conclude. i will give way to the honorable lady. >> the attorney general is telling the house that we must await the outcome of the inquiries into these allegations. if that is the case, why is the government going ahead, to allow an news course -- news corp to take over skype when there are serious allegations against them? surely, it should wait for the outcome. >> at the risk of repeating what i said earlier, the process of
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the takeover is a legal process. my right honorable friend will receive legal advice, i have no doubt, about the proper way in which he has to conduct it. and i also have no doubt that he is both listening and will listen to the representations that have been made here today, in which anxieties have been expressed on the matter. beyond that it would not be proper for me to go. i give way to the honorable lady. >> the honorable gentleman said earlier that ofcon can intervene at any point with respect to the fit and proper person test. will the attorney general confirm that -- would you give guidance as to whether they should take into account the ongoing allocation with regard to phone hacking in applying that test? if the cannot take into account this allegation, would he give guidance as to how they should regard the phone hacking?
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>> i have to say to the honorable lady ofcom is a role independent of the government and i do not know if i should provide them my opinion on the matter, or the notion of independence is going to be lost. i think a really wish to bring my remarks to an end. of course i will give way to the honorable gentleman. [laughter] >> the attorney general says that the secretary of state for cloture, media, and sport will no doubt receive legal advice. but will he agree that he is not bound by the legal advice, that he has the right as secretary of state, in his quasi judicial position, to make his own decisions? there is a book about this if he wants to read it. [laughter] >> i am sure my right honorable friend the secretary of state is very well advised and will note
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the right honorable gentleman's comments. in order to be equal, i give way to the honorable gentleman. >> in the interest of avoiding this happening in the future, i'll share my concerns that the code contains no demand for people to know the basis on which information which is bought has been obtained to ensure it has not been obtained through criminal acts. >> an interesting point and no doubt something which can be looked at by the present commission. i wish to conclude. i will simply say this. these are very grave allegations. for me, in my role as attorney general, i have a curious objective as guardian of the public interest. i have no doubt the public interest will only be served if these matters are fully inquired into and if those who have committed or are alleged to have
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committed criminal offenses and are seen to have a profanity -- a prima face case against them will have charges brought against them. i ask the house to bring that in mind and reiterate my thanks to the honorable gentleman for the manner in which he presented this debate. superb. >> thank you, mr. speaker. can i congratulate our friend for securing today's serious debate? and also for the analysis he set out of the problems and the work that he and others in this parliament have done to pursue this issue with the vigor. and i think the whole house would want to pay tribute to their work and their determination on these issues. the events of the last few days have sent shock waves across the nation. with every hour that passes, we hear more deeply disturbing allegations, clams of private
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investigators paid by "news of the world" who have in the phone of a missing 13-year-old girl, erasing her messages in the search for a story, giving her parents false hope. the chapman family and others have also been targeted in similar ways. we do not know yet, until the criminal investigation is complete, what the truth is behind each of these allegations. and of course we in this house must not prejudice those investigations and any potential trials that must take place. but we can say very loudly and very clearly that the very idea of targeting victims and their families in their darkest hour is shameful, sickening, and crawl. -- ruel -- cruel. it is not just about the invasion of privacy. it is the violation of victims
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and their families at a time when there are doubts about the way our society and our justice system more widely to treat victims and their families. that is what people across the country are rightfully angry and want answers. for a start, mr. speaker, this of course means the current net criminal investigation needs to be forensic and furious in the pursuit of truth. people want to know the truth about what happened. they want to know how it could have been allowed to happen in modern newspapers, and also stay hidden for so long, how it could have been tolerated, how people could have turned a blind eye. they want to know whether the journalists risked criminal investigation, how victims and their families could be so appallingly treated, and why these allegations were not sufficiently investigated at an earlier stage. >> may i make to the right
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honorable lady the same point i made to the honorable gentleman? this report from the information commissioner, published in 2006, was quite clearly a harbinger and a warning for what was going on, and yet no one in the government, or indeed in the house, appeared to pay any attention to it. surely the lesson is that this rock has been in the system for a long time -- rot has been in the system for a long time. and it is a terrible thing that this house did nothing about it. >> i think the honorable member is right to say these words to all members of the house and all members of this government and former governments. and i have talked to honorable members on our side of the house who are very clear that this inquiry that we are pulling for must look for all issues that go back historically as well. and he is right that there were warning signs. as i said at the beginning, i
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think it is a tribute that some parliamentarians did pick this up. but all of us need to look both at what is happening but also why too many people turned a blind eye or did not focus on the sheer horror of what was happening for too long. when i say it is clear about the investigation -- the bigger must continue. it needs to look into the heart of the darkness, where criminal investigation has been committed. it must do robust prosecution and deliver justice. of course we must not jeopardize the investigations with what we say today in this debate, but also with the details of any inquiry. but for the police -- it is for the police and the courts, in the end, to determine the veracity of those allegations. but it is also for this parliament to make sure they can do that, are doing that, and to address the wider issues.
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we secondly need to know -- >> would my right honorable friend agree with me it is essential that now we know members of the public have been a fact that they should get special support, legal aid? >> , my friend makes a very important point. there may be many people who may not be troubled who may not be in a position -- some of those pursuing civil action have been able to seek legal advice. i think it is important this is the that urgently by the ministry of justice and by the attorney general. we need to also know urgently whether the actions of journalists and private investigators have interfered with police investigations, not just in millie dowler's case but inniel morgan's case, other cases. we are also asking the attorney general, cps, and chief
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constables to review other high- profile cases across the country that have provoked media attention. it is important for people to be assured that those investigations have not been interfered with, and whether there are any further criminal investigations that need to take place in a wider range of cases than the one they met -- the met is currently reviewing. >> [unintelligible] we have a situation where the metropolitan police are investigating previous unsatisfactory investigations of the metropolitan police. it is important for the public to have confidence. would she consider the possibility of involving other police forces in supervising the investigation taking place? >> i will come onto the police investigation in a moment. the current police investigation
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the attorney general referred to is in fact not looking at what happened in the first investigation. it is pursuing these criminal investigations. she is right that there is a further question about what happened in that first investigation and who needs to look at that, who needs to have the searching inquiry into that first investigation, the nature of the problems that arose. i do think there is a role for the ipcc to make sure there is proper, independent investigation as well. there is no doubt for all of us that we are agreed across the house that there are wider issues at stake and that there is a case for a public inquiry, a full public inquiry now to take place. because there are wider issues about the culture that could allow these alleged events in the news of the world to go on and to be tolerated, about the wider media practices and ethical conduct, about the
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effectiveness of the current pcc arrangements. we have a responsibility to safeguard the right of our media to report freely on all aspects of our society, to hold up to account and scrutinize in detail the work we do in the public interest. the vast majority of journalists and editors are committed to maintaining the highest ethical standards. as my right honorable friend the shuttle culture secretary has said, alongside freedom comes responsibility. regulation is very important. but the press has to also make it work. in january, the editor of "the financial times" accused the commission of being supine at best in response to the hacking scandal. their record on investigating phone hacking has been one of failure. i give way. >> the honorable lady is quite right.
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democracy -- a cornerstone is the free press. the laws governing the free press have failed. would she support that? >> i think the current arrangements for the pcc clearly have not delivered in this case. i think it is right the press should be trying to make self regulation work. but this is the issue that should be dealt with. it is now at the heart of this inquiry. it is important to restore confidence in the public, across the country, in the way in which the media operates, the independence of the media, but also the trustworthiness of what they do. the inquiries into also cover these questions for the police. the metropolitan police commissioner stated yesterday it is inevitable that questions will be asked about the parameters of the original investigation, as well as about the regulatory role of the press
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commission and others. he is right, because there are three questions now. first of all, whether payments were made by the media to individual officers, some of which is clearly illegal and is corruption. secondly, about the wider relationship between newspapers and police. thirdly, why the first investigation did not reach the truth and uncover what is happening. i have spoken to the metropolitan commissioner today. he told me he believes public inquiry is to not only inevitable, but also the right thing to do. he said the police should be held to account. it is important the inquiry must cover these issues. minister should reflect on what specialist roles there should be for police officers themselves as part of this, with the ipcc and the hmic plane part of that inquiry to ensure there is a proper investigation taking place.
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i will give way. >> if the right honorable lady can tell us, did the commissioner of the metropolitan police indicate that he had made a referral to the independent police complaints commission? has he done so, or has that not yet happened? >> as i understand it from our conversation this morning, he has indeed made a referral about the allegations that police officers received payments to the ipcc. the conclusion of the ipcc, as i understand it, is that the current investigation by the met should continue but the ipcc is keeping it under review. i think it is important we have that independent investigation. i think there will be a wider question we want to reflect on in their place in our system
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when individual investigations might go awry or may not reach the right conclusions they need to, a role i do not think will be fulfilled by the police and crime commissions the government is proposing. that i think will in fact create greater risk for the future. the police to vital and excellent work solving crimes and supporting families of murder victims and others. that is what it is important that work is not undermined or discredited by any lack of transparency over these phone hacking allegations, and recognizing that any area where things have gone wrong must be put right for the future. before i returned to the case for the public inquiry and what we believe public inquiry should consider, a response to the points the attorney general made about the referral to the competition commission or lack of one.
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he will know we have continually called for the case to be referred to the competition commission, as we believe it is the right thing to do. i hope the secretary of state of culture and media, who is here today, and the attorney general will reflect carefully on the points that have made by members on all sides of the house about the flexibility he has within the law to look at this issue again, and also to recognize the importance of the issues we of and arguing for from the beginning. i would simply say to him that these judgments need to be fair, but it is also important that judgments are seen to be fair, and that they have public confidence as well. mr. speaker, the prime minister has agreed today that there should be an inquiry or inquiries into these issues. the attorney general, at the end of his speech, said that he refers to a number of other
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inquiries already under way and tried to give off some assurance that these things were being taken seriously. he will know, however, that the number of inquiries that have taken place or are taking place now gives no such reassurance. quite the opposite is true. it is the case that because so many inquiries have not gotten to the truth, whether it was by the parliamentary committee or others -- they were not able to get to the bottom of what had been happening. >> i understand the lady's point, but think she slightly misunderstood the point i was making. i was also referring to the prime minister's statement today. a full appreciation has grown over a period of time that this is a serious issue. steps have been taken to try to deal with it. i have to say to the leader of the opposition if his government had been troubled when they themselves were in office, they could have taken steps during
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the period from 2006 to 2010 to do something about this. i have to say i have avoided throughout my comments today making any criticism about the with the previous government happened, and i think these remarks are uncalled for. >> i will just say to the attorney general i do respect the position from which he made his speech, but also just to warn him against any complacency about the number of inquiries. i think the key is whether the inquiry has sufficient powers and can truly get to the heart of what has been happening. >> although the culture, media and sports committee, and another committee has been conducting inquiries, they by their nature monitor
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departments. what is needed is an overarching inquiry. i have discussed informally with the chairman setting up a joint inquiry between our committees. there needs to be something that covers all bases, leading to this very important subject. >> my right honorable friend is exactly right. his committee in fact has done extremely important work in these issues, and i know will continue to do so. it is also important that the inquiry has the power to not only compel witnesses, but also to get to the heart of information and to get to the range of interconnecting issues. my right honorable friend, the leader of the opposition, has set up already in the area we believe this must cover, covering the unlawful practices including phone hacking which do appear to have been prevalent in
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certain sections of the newspaper industry, the ethical conduct and standards of the industry, the nature of credible regulation, and the relationship between the police and the newspaper industry. we have asked the government to decide now the nature and scope of this inquiry, to choose who should take that forward, to get these -- to get the team established in place as soon as possible without waiting for criminal inquiries to be in place, as the gibson inquiry has done. i welcome his agreement that it is possible to know whether elements can be looked at in advance of the criminal investigation being completed. nobody wants to put that investigation at risk, but it does look at first sight as though some elements could be investigated and explored at the earlier stage rather than having to wait until the end of the process. but we do need to know which minister will be in charge of those discussions and considerations. >> does my friend not agree
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that whatever happens in the next few days, including the potential resignation from news international, nothing can undermine the need for a public inquiry, whatever happens? >> there is a wide-ranging nature of this and the importance of restoring confidence. but it is important which minister will be in charge of making those decisions and setting up the inquiry. we assumed it would be either the home secretary or the secretary of state or the culture of media. but there are other responsibilities on the wider issues around the competition commission. but the attorney general needs also to consider what the prime minister's role will be in this. i think this is important. the prime minister's judgment has already been called into question by his appointment of and coulson as his media adviser
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despite the allegations raised about illegal practices and wrongdoing at the "news of the world" on his watch. it is alleged e-mails exposed direct payments from the news international, from the "news of the world," to police that were known about by andy coulson. there is evidence he knew about these e-mails and this is the reason he resigned in january. if so, this is extremely serious. the e-mails were only passed to the metropolitan police on june 20, even though the inquiry and full cooperation of news international had supposedly started on january 26. was andy coulson aware of this, and did he tell the prime minister or anyone else at # 10 about these e-mails? if he did, it would mean members
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of the government would be aware about this information for the metric -- before the metropolitan police. it is necessary the prime minister provide immediate answers in response to these questions. the attorney general and cabinet secretary should also advise whether or not the prime minister should now remove himself from any decision making about this public inquiry. it is clear that the conduct of one of his closest employees and colleagues is a substantive issue not just for the criminal investigation, but also for the wider inquiry. this inquiry needs to be impartial and needs to inspire confidence. it cannot be compromised by any perception of impartiality in its establishment by the ministers who are in charge of the decisions. mr. speaker, this inquiry is so important because it goes to the heart of our democracy and our society. the inquiry is not about
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parliament and the media or in a row between parliament and the police. it is because the media play such a vital role in our democracy that they must be accountable with clear ethical standards. it is because policing is so central to our democracy the police must be accountable when things go wrong. it is the result of the work of parliament and by parliamentarians. parliament must also press further, not just to seek truth, not just to restore the effectiveness and credibility of parts of the newspaper industry, not just to get justice, but to say on behalf of everyone in this country we will not stand for the shameful and cool practices the we have seen. we will stand as a parliament against these shocking practices. it is not the kind of country want to be. and we will stand on the side of those, especially the crime victims and their families, who
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should never have found themselves dragged into this terrible debate today. >> we provide coverage of politics, public affairs, nonfiction books and american history. available to you on television, radio, on line, and social media sites. find our content and in time through the video library and we take it on the road with her digital bus local content vehicles, bringing our resources to your community. it is washington your way, the c-span networks. now available and more than 100 million homes. created by cable, provided as a public service. >> "washington journal" is next. we will take your calls and look at the day's news. plus, the latest on debt ceiling negotiations. the u.s. house gavels in in two hours and will continue work on 2012 defense department spending d

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